Study Group for Roman Pottery Amsterdam Conference 2011

– Amsterdam Fri 24th to Sun 26th June 2011

Organised by
the VU University Amsterdam
& the University of Amsterdam

Programme – summaries
of lectures

24th of June

Session 1: Production sites on both sides of the Channel and the
distribution of their wares

The city of Forum Hadriani: a supply base for the military on
the Dutch coast
Julie Van
Kerckhove/Mark Driessen
The ceramic evidence from the excavations at Voorburg-Arentsburg will
be the subject of this paper. The huge quantity of sherds – found in
a spectacularly well-preserved harbour – reveals the role and
function of the Roman harbour city Forum Hadriani. Studying
provenance, changing networks and the form and function of pottery for
all well-dated contexts sheds light on the strong connection between
trade and the military in Forum Hadriani. Moreover, the resemblance
with the pottery from the recent excavations in the harbour of London
(Drapers Gardens) is striking. How is it possible that the harbour of
London and Forum Hadriani share the same pottery imports, the same
ritual deposits and the same formation processes‌
Another focus during the pottery analysis was the
creation of a typology for each production region in order to use
Forum Hadriani as a type-site for the region. In this way everyone can
benefit from the increased knowledge of both regionally produced as
well as imported pottery.

coastal pottery tradition in the Roman period. A military-native
Wim De Clercq & Sofie Vanhoutte
The north Menapian area situated along the southern channel-coast
witnessed an intense occupation during the Roman period. Recent
archaeological research sheds new light on both military and civilian
occupation and material culture patterns. Based on 10 well dated
pottery complexes, the technological, quantitative and typological
aspects of the regional pottery consumption and production in the
region will be assessed.
As in the rest of the North-Menapian area, native
hand-made pottery traditions seem to have persisted in considerable
way throughout the Roman period, both in quantities and in formal
diversity. This group also demonstrates parallels with British as well
as continental inland native productions.
During the late second century at least one wheel-thrown
group of grey pottery in which both coarse and fine new vessel-forms
were produced, appears in the coastal region. Fabric analysis shows
the probable use of a tertiary clay source, situated south of Bruges.
This group constitutes the largest pottery group of common pottery in
the military sites in the region during the second and third
centuries, but it is also well represented at civilian sites and seems
to have existed along the continuing hand-made tradition. Forms of the
new repertoire equally appear in the native pottery spectrum.
In the paper we want to analyze the evolution of these
wares during the first three centuries. Apart from the development of
a typo-chronological and technological framework of the regional
pottery traditions in the region questions will be raised concerning
the possible influence of the army on, and the interactions with the
local pottery tradition and consumption patterns.

The distribution of
Northern French pottery to Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands:
a distinct choice of forms and categories
Sonja Willems, Stéphane Dubois, Cyrille Chaidron
Several pottery production zones and their kiln sites have been
characterised in the latest few years, thanks to the exchange of data
of about 300 sites. Distribution maps have clearly shown that specific
categories and forms are exported, while other categories are only
locally used. This lecture focuses on the categories and forms
distributed to Britain and towards the North. The Noyon, Beauvais and
La Calotterie production zones have transported their products towards
England, while the Bavay/Famars, Bruay-Labuissière and Arras/Dourges
regions exported towards the North. The aim is to give an overview of
these long distance exports and to raise the question of the division
of pottery markets and the function of certain forms.

The Lower Nene
Valley: A Major Local and Regional Production Centre
Rob Perrin
Roman pottery production in the Lower Nene Valley around modern
Peterborough began soon after the arrival of the Romans in the area.
The growth of the Roman small town of Durobrivae and the
exploitation of the adjacent Fenland provided a stimulus for the
development of a sizeable pottery industry from the second century
onwards. The bulk of the production at this time was essentially
utilitarian grey and shell tempered wares, together with mortaria, but
in the middle of the century the potters began to produce a range of
fine colour coated wares. These comprised mainly beakers and flagons,
together with some unusual types such as the ‘Castor Box’. The
early range of beakers included vessels decorated with hunting scenes
(‘Hunt Cups/Jagdbecher) and scenes portraying gladiatorial combat,
various gods and phallic sybols. Later the forms and decoration on the
beakers copied those produced in the Rhineland. The production of
grey, oxidised, colour coated and shell tempered wares continued
throughout the third but, later in the third century or early in the
fourth, grey wares died out, to be replaced by colour coated versions
of more utilitarian forms, together with a range of imitation samian
ware types. In the fourth century a range of painted white wares was
added to the repertoire. Most of the production was geared to local
consumption but the colour coated wares and mortaria found markets
across the province. Roman pottery production in the Lower Nene Valley
continued until the end of the Roman occupation of Britain.

Session 2: Production and distribution of samian ware

A third century samian shop group from Nantes (Loire-Atlantique,
R. Delage1, G. Monteil2, N.
Rouzeau3 & J. Pascal1
This contribution will present the various components of a
third century Central Gaulish samian shop group destroyed in a fire
before being distributed. Excavated in 1982 on the site of the “Ecole
des Beaux-Arts” in Nantes (France), this samian assemblage
contains a homogeneous group of late Central Gaulish forms,
particularly plain forms and provides a unique opportunity to explore
the typological and morphological characteristics of Central Gaulish
samian vessels in circulation in the mid 3rd century AD.
1. Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques
préventives (France)
2. University of Nottingham (Britain)
3. Ministère de la Culture (France)

A late samian dish
from Surrey
Joanna Bird
The dish was discovered in a votive deposit near Guildford. It is rare
for its date – it is only the second example of late 3rd to mid- 4th
century Rheinzabern ware from Britain – and for its shape and the
incised decoration on its flat handles. The shape and decorative style
copy a late silver type, and three round dishes, probably decorated by
the same hand, are known from Rheinzabern and from the nearby cemetery
at Speyer. The dish also shows interesting details of how it was made.

Getting Samian Ware
to Britain: routes and transport possibilities
Geoff Dannell & Allard Mees
The paper examines the route-ways and distribution channels used to
market Gaulish samian-ware in Britain. It draws on the accumulating
data contained in Brian Hartley & Brenda Dickinson, ‘Names on
Terra Sigillata’, which is in the course of publication in 9 volumes
by the Institute of Classical Studies, London (2008 onwards), and the
data-base compiled from this information by Allard Mees and others at
the Romanische-Germanisches Zentral Museum, Mainz
This is strictly ‘work-in-progress’ and aimed at stimulating parallel
studies in samian-ware and other classes of Roman ceramics by using
distribution maps and software like ArcGIS to analyse the most likely
possibilities, and to highlight anomalies and problems yet to be

Distribution of
terra sigillata from La Graufesenque to the Northern Provinces
Allard W. Mees and Marinus Polak
One of the commodities transported by the North Sea and the river
Rhine is Samian ware or terra sigillata. In the first century AD the
northern provinces of Britannia and Belgica (including the later
Germanies) were mainly provided with sigillata by the potters from the
kiln site at La Graufesenque in southern Gaul. But from the early
second century onwards the northern market was broken up and divided
over various kiln sites situated further to the North and Northeast,
including Lezoux, Rheinzabern and Trier.The huge numbers of potters’
stamps included in the corpus built up by Brian Hartley and Brenda
Dickinson (now being published as Names on Terra Sigillata) offer a
detailed insight into the distribution of terra sigillata through
time. The analysis of the available data reveals that in the first
century the northern market was not as uniform as it appears at first
sight. A method has been developed to trace chronological patterns in
distribution maps, based on the centres of gravity of the output of
individual potters.

Saturday 25th of June
Session 3: The major wares in the Rhineland and Eifel region

Pottery production
in Roman Cologne

Constanze Höpken
The huge clay deposits 10 km West of Cologne were of high quality so
there were ideal conditions to produce good quality pottery in large
In the 1st century immigrated potters produced vessels in
italian or in gallo-roman tradition. The workshops were located near
the city centre of the oppidum Ubiorum – the first known name
of the settlement. The potters sold their products in the city and in
the Hinterland. About the middle of the first century, when the oppidum
became a colony, the potters moved into the suburbs. The
spectrum of pottery developed more and more into a local style,
combining Italian and Gallo-Roman elements.
In the 2nd Century a pottery center arose west of the
city in the area of today’s Rudolfplatz. The range of produced pottery
comprised plain and coarse wares and especially slipped wares like the
famous hunt cups and mould made objects like figures and masks. These
were shipped long distance via the Rhine to Britain. But also green
glazed wares were made, which is proved by kiln supports, which were
used during the firing process to protect the vessels.
The decline of the pottery centre began in the end of the
2nd century and for the 3rd, there are only a few workshops known. It
seems that merchants from Trier controlled the trade along the Rhine;
the potters lost their economic basis and moved into the Hinterland
for example to Soller and carried on the export to Britain.

Emergence of an
industrial landscape. The Roman pottery centre at Urmitz-Weissenthurm
Sibylle Friedrich
Archaeological finds over the last 150 years show that Weissenthurm
was an important production centre for ceramics. The pottery industry
was based on the clay deposits at Kärlich that are still in use
today. Production of coarse ware dishes in the Urmitz-Weissenthurm
area started in the early 2nd Ccentury. The volume of production and
the distribution of the ware along the Lower and Upper Germanic Limes
suggest the heyday of this hard-baked ware was in the first half of
the 3rd century. The middle of the 3rd century saw the drastic
disappearance of the military markets, but rather than break down
production apparently shifted to civilian territory. The latest
evidence for the industry comes from finds in the Lorraine area,
Luxembourg and Switzerland, which may date to the first half of the
4th century.
The current analysis of the excavation of 1974/75 from
the Landesamt für Denkmalpflege, Abteilung Archäologische
Denkmalpflege, Amt Koblenz, occupies a central position in the study
of early pottery production in the north of Rhineland-Palatinate. The
project will explore one of the oldest industries in the region, and
contributes to a research project on “The development of an
industrial landscape – The ancient quarry and mining district
between the Eifel and Rhine” at the Vulkanologie, Archäologie
und Technikgeschichte – Mayen” of the Römisch-Germanisches
Zentralmuseums at Mainz.

The latest Roman
pottery production at Mayen/Eifel (Germany). Archaeological findings
and scientific analysis results.
Dr. Lutz Grunwald
In 1986/87 an archaeological excavation took place in the centre of
the town of Mayen. In the documented layers the traces of 51
pit-houses are of especially great interest. The first results
concerning the excavation of 1986/87 are surprising: The pit-houses
can be dated from the 5th to the 8th/9th century. Pottery waste
indicates the production of ceramics during the 5th century in the
neighbourhood. The assessment of this excavation started in November
2007 as an interdisciplinary project at the Römisch-Germanisches
Zentralmuseum Mainz and is integrated in the “Forschungsbereich
Vulkanologie, Archäologie und Technikgeschichte” in Mayen. As
the long-distance export of the Mayen ware is one of the main aspects
of the project, scientific analysis of the composition of the Mayen
ceramics has been carried out at the University of Mainz. Material
from15 kilns excavated at Mayen has been examined. The mineralogical
results are very expressive. It is now possible to identify Mayen ware
from the European export-regions clearly as products manufactured in
Mayen. During this lecture new aspects of the Roman pottery production
in the Mayen area and the first results of the scientific analysis of
Mayen ware will be shown.

Session 4:
Pottery production in the Batavian and Tungrian
civitates and

pottery consumption in the Dutch river area

Fluctuations in
Roman pottery production in Nijmegen
Harry van Enckevort, Elly N.A. Heirbaut, Joep
During the last few decades, remains of Roman pottery production were
found at several places within the borders of modern Nijmegen. The
kilns and the production waste can be placed in both (semi-)military
and civil contexts. The oldest products can be dated to 19-12 B.C.,
the more recent one to around AD 200. When the dated products are
placed in a chronological order we can say that the pottery production
in Nijmegen is subject to some kind of fluctuations.

Early Roman pottery
production in the civitas Tungrorum: towards an integrated
BORGERS (VrijeUniversiteitBrussel), Marc DE BIE (VrijeUniversiteitBrussel),
(KatholiekeUniversiteit Leuven), Patrick S. QUINN
(University College London)
The development of the early Roman settlements in the civitas
(from AD 50 onwards) is essentially one of
discontinuity. Few sites were re-occupied after Caesar’s
intervention, which had laid the foundation for more fundamental
changes in the settlement pattern, and a move to greater nucleation; a
widespread expansion of urbanism developed under Roman rule. For
example, Tongeren was founded as the caput civitatis in the
late first century BC/early first century AD, and laid out according
to a Roman plan. Its inhabitants integrated quickly, as witnessed by
the gradual development of native domestic structures into Roman style
urban residences. Also, the rural settlements in the civitas
appear to be new foundations, reflecting a high level of organization,
as witnessed by their organized and spatially confined settings with a
functional division into living areas, workshops and agricultural
From the detailed
assessment of the physical evidence from five pottery production sites
in the civitas Tungrorum, two points can be drawn.
In the first instance, the early Roman period is
characterised by distinct changes in ceramic morphology and
decoration. During the first centuries AD, stylistic diversification
is accompanied by the introduction of new supra-regional pottery types
thought to have played a central role in exchange, the negotiation of
identity and the emergence of social inequality. The stylistic
diversification suggests that the first potters in the civitas,
might have migrated from southern Gaul, whilst by the later Flavian
period, they seem to have migrated from the camps along the Rhine limes
(or they had been in contact with potters working for the soldiers
and/or veteran clients).
The second point to be
drawn is that large nucleated pottery industries, producing Roman
style pottery, developed at the pottery production sites at Vervoz and
Tienen. The production debris recovered from both sites, indicates
separation of the production of coarse wares and fine wares, showing a
move towards the intensification of pottery production. The production
debris at the two aforementioned sites presents a picture of an
expanding industry, specialising in the production of tableware.
However, for the sites at Kontich and Grobbendonkin in the northern
Campine region, it appears that the number of operating production
units has been underestimated. In addition to the discovered and
discussed kilns, two other kilns can be counted. At both early Roman
sites, the dump of production debris suggests a further pottery kiln
in the immediate vicinity of the recorded kiln. What is more, the
production debris recovered from these sites indicates some separation
of the production of coarse and fine wares, suggesting a move towards
the intensification and specialisation of pottery production.
The physical evidence at the sites in the civitas
demonstrates an active and changing Roman pottery
industry, making it an ideal location to investigate the development
of early Roman pottery production technologies on a micro-scale. Since
we know little about how these new types were integrated in local
pottery traditions, and whether their introduction represents a change
in the contexts of production or use, an approach has been adopted
which uses a combination of traditional macroscopic ceramic analysis
with thin section petrography and ICP-OES analysis. As the results
from the five sites from the civitas Tungrorum show, the
detailed examination of ceramic technology offers a means to explore
the compositional variability within and between sites, providing
insights into a diversity of social and technological practices within
the Early Roman cultural tradition on the one hand, and the movement
of artefacts and people within the civitas Tungrorum on the

A chronology of
late-Roman ceramics imported to the Dutch River Area:
The case of Wijk bij Duurstede-De Geer

Stijn Heeren Vrije Universiteit (Amsterdam). NWO-funded
Odyssee-programme Dorestad Vicus Famosus

In the modern Wijk bij Duurstede, the Netherlands, the medieval
emporium Dorestad, called a Vicus Famosus by contemporaries, was
situated. In the northern periphery of Dorestad lies the site De Geer,
which is older than Dorestad itself. In contrast to Dorestad, which to
our knowledge of today rose very quickly from nowhere into the
emporium par excellence in half a century (late 7th
century), the De Geer site was a secondary centre or a rural
settlement, already inhabited for ages (2nd to 9th
century continuously).
In this contribution, I will not discuss the Early Middle Ages, but
concentrate on the crucial period just before, the Late Roman period.
In the Netherlands, hardly any sites of the Late Roman period are
known and well published. I will isolate some well dated assemblages
at De Geer, containing ceramics from the late 3rd to 5th
centuries. Coin-dates, c14-samples and dendrochronological dates allow
quite certain dates in some cases. The discussion of these assemblages
will focus on the emergence and disappearance of the various imported
wares and their relative weight when compared to the locally
manufactured handmade wares.
In addition to the well recognisable shell-gritted handmade wares,
coarse wares from Urmitz-Weissenthurm, colour coated beakers, red
painted dishes, medium sized amphorae and mortaria from the group
called Lower Moselle by Julie van Kerckhove are present in late 3rd
century contexts. In the fourth century, the Chenet 342-type terra
nigra like wares emerge, while the later 4th and early 5th
century see a rise in late Samian (Argonnen) wares and coarse wares
from the Eifel, notably from Mayen.

Session 5: Pottery consumption in Britain and methodology in
pottery studies

Trends in the
presence of amphorae at sites in Roman Britain
Steve Willis
This paper develops some of the themes I looked at in the paper on
amphorae that I gave at the 2009 annual conference of the Study Group
at Chichester. In particular this contribution will focus upon
patterns of distribution and consumption at sites and the degree to
which this was related to site status, identity and type. Much new
data is available from publications and so the opportunity arises for
synthetic analysis. Broad trends emerging from the study of a range of
sites is presented, together with some case studies from specific
sites. Whilst trends in Britain may differ in certain significant
respects from those seen in other provinces the paper provides an
opportunity for the international audience to note some patterns from
Britain which they may gauge against the assemblages from their
regions. Some methodological and recording aspects will be considered,
as well as prospective future research questions.

Sub-Roman pottery production in
South-eastern Britain
Malcolm Lyne
This paper seeks to show how the recent recognition that a full
monetary economy may have continued to operate in parts of Britain
well into the second quarter of the 5th century may change our
perception of early 5th century material culture in South-East Britain
from one leaving very few traces in the archaeological record to one
which is an extension of that previously thought to be restricted to
the period c.AD.370-410 but which can now be seen to span the period
c.AD.370-430/40. It is suggested that Romano-British style pottery
production continued in some areas until the mid-5th century, albeit
on a much smaller scale than previously.

shedding light on the deposition of Roman pottery Case Studies
from the Lincolnshire Wolds
Emma Jackson
Pottery is a versatile archaeological resource which allows a variety
of analytical methodologies to be employed to explore what
pottery sherds can tell us of past society and past
processes. This paper examines two aspects: the data and results
attained from quantification and volumetric analysis of assemblages,
with close consideration of context type and space. Pottery
assemblages recovered during fieldwalking and excavation at three
sites with Roman occupation in Lincolnshire form the subject material.
The methodologies have high potential; the utility of volumetric study
should be clear but is arguably undervalued. Quantification is
obviously a fundamental and now routine part in all archaeological
data processing yet the basic elements such as counts,
weights, sherd measurements and condition are rarely used to
their full potential or as a key means towards the interpretation
of a site’s character and use: studies such as that outlined here
should go some way to demonstrating to those writing-up sites, of the
insight that can be forthcoming from such analyses. Volumetric site
data methodology was pioneered around thirty years ago yet to date has
only been systematically used on a handful of sites in Yorkshire and
Lincolnshire with only one of these being published so far.
However, it can clearly be employed successfully to identify
patterns within the archaeological material recovered and
to distil what this may impart about site use and
development to those studying pottery, finds, site use and formation.

Roman pottery
studies in Britain: current practice and future strategies Jane Evans
Jane Evans
The Study Group for Roman Pottery has recently produced a Research
Strategy and Updated Agenda for the Study of Roman Pottery in Britain
(Rob Perrin, September 2010), which will be published later this year.
This compliments a number of other recent surveys; of samian studies
in Britain (Gwladys Monteil and Louise Rayner, May 2010), post-Roman
ceramic studies in Britain (Anne Irving, forthcoming), and more
recently, of archaeological specialists in general (Kenneth Aitchison,
in progress). Our Research Strategy and Updated Agenda covers both
strategic research and study aims, focusing on the national agenda for
Britain, and also the practical infrastructure essential to achieve
our strategic ends (judged by the contribution our studies make to
researching, protecting and promoting our Roman heritage). It draws
together the views of both Roman pottery specialists and the wider
heritage sector, including local government archaeologists, university
archaeological departments, archaeological journals, museums and
commercial/contracting archaeological organisations. Holding the SGRP
annual conference in Amsterdam provides the ideal opportunity to share
the key results more widely. To what extent does our approach to Roman
pottery studies overlap with, or differ from approaches used
elsewhere‌ Given the presence of an international audience, it is
hoped that this subject will form the subject of some lively and
informative discussion during the conference.

An update on the Kilns digitization Project

to Amsterdam Conference Page